Equipment inspection and maintenance

Regularly checking height safety equipment can save lives in the workplace. Liz Foster writes for Safety First.

Regularly checking height safety equipment can save lives in the workplace. Liz Foster writes for Safety First.

TODAY there is plenty of height safety equipment available on the marketplace, and in theory, workers in Australia are better than ever protected from injury – or worse – when working at height.

However, it’s not enough to simply know how to use it. Before using any equipment, operators should be aware that their lives depend on its efficiency and durability.

Gordon Cadzow from the FPMA notes that proper equipment inspection is the first line of defence against the hazards of faulty equipment.

“Safety equipment is highly specialised, and like anything else, requires regular checking to ensure it’s still in 100% working order,” Cadzow told Safety First.

“This includes all personal protective equipment and devices including safety harnesses, associated lanyards, connectors, fall arrest devices (self retracting lifelines) as well as horizontal lifelines and rails and anchorages.

If these items are not maintained and stored in the right conditions, there is every chance that they may not work properly, just when they’re needed.”

Gordon said in regards to the requirements detailed for safety equipment maintenance as laid out in AS/NZS1891.4, it’s important that the operator is fully trained in order to be able to effectively carry out the inspection and if this isn’t possible, then another competent person needs to carry out the inspection.

“The Standard requires that all personal-use equipment (harnesses, lanyards, connectors and fall arrest devices) and common-use equipment (ropes, slings and mobile attachment devices) are inspected by a competent operator before and after each use.

“To clarify further, the Standard defines a competent person as someone who, through a combination of training, knowledge and experience has acquired knowledge and skills that enables that person to correctly perform a specified task.”

Inspections need to be by sight and touch, and include the opening of any equipment where access for daily inspection is provided to ensure that the internal components are in good condition.

If the equipment is considered in any way doubtful by the inspector, it should be tagged out of service and clearly labelled, indicating the defect. It then needs to be referred to a competent person for further action or replacement.

Many users may still be unsure as to when the equipment needs inspecting, so where there are no manufacturer’s or supplier’s recommendations, inspection timings are laid out in the table below.

Record Keeping

The maintenance and inspection history of the item should be kept on a record card or history sheet, making it clear which item it refers to, and should be freely available to the operator for at least the life of the equipment.

Data to be maintained on equipment includes the following:

• Manufacturers’, suppliers’ or installers’ name and address.

• Manufacturer’s batch, serial or identifying number.

• Year of manufacture*

• Date of purchase*

• Date first put into service.

• Dates and details of inspections and services.

• Details of recommended connection to harnesses.

• Type of anchorage line to be used.

*not required on fixed anchorages, fixed horizontal lifelines and rails.

The Standard also details a checklist for the inspection of harnesses, lanyards and associated equipment however, it’s important that this checklist is used together with the manufacturer’s user instruction manual to establish precise details of equipment inspection and maintenance requirements.

For further information regarding fall protection and how the standard changes may impact on your business operations, as well as information on all FPMA members, visit www.fpma.com.au, or contact Gordon Cadzow at gcadzow@fpma.com.au.

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